Monday, July 6, 2015

Edgewater 7

Jet Set, Sir Speedy and Top Pay at the Miami Herald


George and Vivian were in the restaurant business in Miami when they agreed to get into another line of work. They figured, I guess, typesetting was a license to print money. The technology was more accessible. It certainly looked that way. George remembers exactly how much he paid every time he had to print new menus. Vivian was happy to move away from hiring and managing busboys, dishwashers, wait staff and cooks. Hire a graphic artist, she reasoned, and the typesetting business was a necessary step in printing everything from menus to business cards. A cash cow. George and Vivian watched every penny. Clothes pins on a line like a short order cook fulfilling tickets was a personal touch borrowed from their previous ventures. I was a graphic designer in this Miami quickie typesetting shop.

Jonathon Babbs knew he could apply his business acumen to make his franchise Sir Speedy Printing Business in West Miami the largest in the country. I was hired to be key account sales representative in this thriving business. Forms, business cards, direct mailers and letterhead.

The Miami Herald paid me to load circulars in a big machine that dropped those valuable revenue sources from retailers like Levitz Furniture, Winn Dixie and others. The hourly rate would only be increased twice before you reached “top pay.” You can tell by looking around who among your co-workers has achieved this level. They are the guys who napped on the piles of newspapers during the break intervals. No sense impressing management if there was no chance for pay increase. A part time gig -- I didn’t work this opportunity long enough to get to Top Pay.

Marquee Magazine hired me in sales. 100% commission is no way to make a living with no cash reserves. It didn’t last. Rome Advertising needed a graphic artist to spec ads for classified newspaper advertising. (I wasn’t very good at it.) The city of Miami department of Parks & Recreation was a pretty good customer for a scrappy graphic artist. (I was competent but always had to haggle to get paid.)

Jet Set, Sir Speedy, Miami Herald, Advertising sales for Miami Marquee Magazine, art direction for Rome Advertising classified advertising and freelance graphic design for the Department of Parks & Recreation. It all added up to walking around money to augment my small stipend and student loans at the University of Miami. All of that was behind me. Would that newly minted MBA be enough to set me apart from perhaps thousands of others seeking entry-level work at a big time advertising firm in the big apple? 

Lynn said “I do” and she was in favor of moving closer to her family so we could give it the college try. We had four degrees from the University of Miami to work with (B.A., B. Ed, M.S. Ed and M.B.A.). Lynn’s incredible parents were a safety net and tremendously supportive. (Even though Lynn’s mom cut out newspaper help wanted ads for me -- Accounting Executive when what I was looking for was Account Executive.)

All of those jobs contributed to life experience that I would draw on forever. In retrospect there is learning in every crappy job and every bounce along the way. The kid from Edgewater Drive is not, after all, made of “finer clay.” Nobody owes me a living. At the same time, like Groucho, I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member.

Misadventures in Advertising, Madison Avenue, Toys, Million dollar deposits at Chemical Bank - One Dag Hammarskjold Plaza.       

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